MEMO: Sarah Godlewski Sees Surging Momentum Five Weeks Before August Primary

With five weeks to go until the August 9th primary, Wisconsin State Treasurer and candidate for U.S. Senate Sarah Godlewski’s campaign has seen a surge in momentum in the last seven days, putting her in the spotlight as the race to unseat Sen. Ron Johnson enters the final stretch. Here’s what those watching the race need to know:

  • The SCOTUS decision is shaking up the Democratic primary in Godlewski’s favor – Godlewski is the only woman in the race and the only candidate who has prioritized reproductive freedom since her entry into the race last spring.
  • Godlewski’s State Convention speech and her focus on abortion rights received rave reviews as “the best” of all primary candidates from voters and race-watchers alike.
  • A straw poll conducted by WisPolitics during the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s State Convention showed Godlewski “effectively tied” with Mandela Barnes among the democratic faithful and core primary voters.
  • Godlewski’s campaign had its best 72 hours of individual donations ever.
  • Godlewski has won tough races before – she took on Scott Walker and his cronies as a “political unknown,” flipping nine Trump counties and taking more of the vote share than the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General in a landslide victory for the Treasurer’s office in 2018.

As the race gains increased attention from voters and national media, Godlewski’s campaign is standing out among the rest of the field. As the only woman in the race, she has uniquely positioned herself as the leading candidate on the issue of abortion rights. 

Last fall, Godlewski’s campaign launched its first six-figure, early voter contact digital campaign with an ad focused on reproductive rights called “Afterthought.” Following the leaked draft opinion in May, Godlewski was the first in the country to launch a TV ad responding to the decision, filmed on the steps of the Supreme Court. 

With the fall of Roe, Sarah was the leading voice in Wisconsin: 

  • Channel 3000:US Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski was in Madison holding a rally [on Monday] on the issue of abortion.”
  • WPR: “Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said in a statement ‘(i)t’s time to act, to mobilize, and to take back our rights and freedoms.’”
  • WKOW: “‘It’s horrifying to think that I went to bed last night and today I have fewer rights than I did yesterday,’ Wisconsin Treasurer and candidate for U.S. Senate Sarah Godlewski said.”
  • POLITICO: Sarah Godlewski: “We should have codified this a long time ago. And I think what it comes down to is that we need more pro-choice Democratic women because they would prioritize getting this done.”
  • CBS News: “And in the crowded Democratic primary to take on GOP Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, the only woman in the race, Sarah Godlewski, released an ad filmed outside the Supreme Court vowing to protect reproductive rights.”
  • Axios: “‘We are now sending women back to 1849,’ Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s state treasurer and one of the Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), told Axios.”
  • Cap Times: “Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said the decision to overturn Roe shows the high court believes ‘that politicians should be making health care decisions and we no longer should have reproductive freedom anymore.’”

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is devastating news for women in Wisconsin and across the country, and polling shows that it has changed the dynamics of this race. The June Marquette Law School poll showed that abortion is a top-of-mind issue for Wisconsin voters with 58% of respondents saying they are very concerned about abortion policy. Godlewski’s own internal polling also shows the power of abortion rights in this race: 80% of Democratic primary voters said it makes them more motivated to vote in the August primary, which is driven largely by women, 75% of whom say this makes them much more motivated to vote compared to 52% of men.

Wisconsinites are noticing Sarah’s surge:  

“In other words, the straw poll merits attention, as does Godlewski’s strong showing in it. Along with Barnes, she came out of last week with serious bragging rights for what remains an open race that any of the top Democrats could win.”

Godlewski has been sounding the alarm on threats to reproductive rights for months, and she made the Supreme Court ruling the centerpiece of her Convention speech in La Crosse on Sunday. While all candidates discussed the implications of the rulings, Godlewski’s speech stood out to observers:

  • ABC 2’s Jason Zimmerman: “I think Sarah Godlewski had the best convention by far. She made a really good play on this issue because she is the only female in the race running for Senate and she really played that up…  I think that really energized her, it energized her supporters. She had a huge amount of people in the audience with signs, applauding her. Obviously a good convention for her.” 
  • TMJ4: “State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is the only woman in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary and immediately talked about the Senate needing to protect abortion rights. ‘It’s one of the reasons why I’m running for the U.S. Senate, because I am sick of this body (the Senate) treating our reproductive freedom like it’s some sort of extra credit project,’ said Godlewski.”
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “‘I’m pissed because we’ve had 50 years to codify this into law — but the Senate has failed to prioritize reproductive rights,’ Godlewski said… In her speech, Godlewski stressed her Wisconsin roots, the push to save the Treasurer’s Office and then win the seat.”

Last week, Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Green Bay and former candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly threw her support behind Godlewski’s campaign as well.

Oh, and did we mention that Grammy Award-winning indie band Bon Iver, which originated in Eau Claire and whose members attended the same high school as Godlewski, endorsed her campaign for U.S. Senate today?

It’s clear what Godlewski is doing on TV, online, and on the ground is working. As this race continues to tighten, our campaign is building the momentum we need to win.